NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The dream of receiving a four-year full college scholarship will come true for some hard-working Stephen F. Austin State University students.
It comes from a man who only wants to be known as "Mr. Smith." The name is real.
So is his desire to give back where his wealth was created.
A Lufkin native spoke on the donor's behalf. However, Robert Hutson hadn't said a word to SFA's Regents when he received a standing ovation.
It's the proper reception for Hutson, who will be administering full Smith-Hutson Scholarships, housing allowance, and paying for one-on-one tutoring to at least 25 SFA students in need.
A lot of these students are fairly high risk from the backgrounds and families that they come from, the economic levels they are," Hutson said. A lot of them are from very small schools."
The cumulative value of each scholarship is about $70,000. Just a fraction of what one of the larger private family foundations in the state provides.
Tuition for this school year is about a $1.8 million. It will be considerable more next year.
SFA joins Sam Houston State University, Lamar University, and Angelina College and Lone Star College in benefiting from the generous scholarships. A mandatory on-campus advisor is overwhelmed by the interest.
"I'll share another number," said Dr. Todd Brown, an associate dean at SFA and the on-campus advisor for the Smith-Hutson Scholarship. "They informed me that Sam Houston has been doing this for 19 years, and they received a little over 350 applications. We received over 430."
The application process is comprehensive and intense. Students are expected to work hard, perform well, and accept help when needed. They may never meet Mr. Smith, but they should know he'll be watching out of concern.
"He sees the applications and follows the progress of the students, but that is just his desire to do that," Hutson said. "The scholarship program was totally unsolicited, but a most welcomed offer for SFA President Dr. Baker Patillo."
This gift will impact our university, our students for years to come," Patillo said.
Hutson and his wife will personally review the applications, narrowing the selection down to 35 for personal interviews. Hutson says it's one of the highest qualified groups he's ever faced.
The interview process for the Smith-Hutson Scholarships will begin in May.
Other educational programs supported by the foundation include a banking program at Sam Houston State.